‘Can suffer real damage’: Monty Don shares how to protect shrubs from frost – top tips

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don announces end of series

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Sharing gardening advice in his latest blog post, expert Monty Don advised gardeners on a variety of different jobs they should be doing around the garden. One of these tips was to protect outdoor shrubs and plants from light frost by supplying them with a layer of protection.

Monty wrote: “Climate change has made our winters warmer and wetter.

“Twenty-five years ago you could depend upon a spell of a week or so of sharp frost around the middle of November where the temperature would remain below freezing for days on end, but this is becoming increasingly unlikely.

“However the temperature can plummet very quickly indeed overnight and semi-tender shrubs like pomegranate, olive, bay or citrus grown in containers – which are healthiest kept outside as long as possible – can suffer real damage.

“The solution is to have squares of horticultural fleece.”

Monty added that they should be cut to fit each plant ready to wrap around them.

“This will be enough protection against light frosts although in really cold winter, when the temperature drops below minus five, they will need a double layer or moving indoors,” the expert said.

Monty said that he lightly secures them with twine so that the fleece is easy to remove as soon as the temperatures start to rise.

Horticultural fleece can be picked up from a variety of different retailers and usually needs to be cut to size.

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The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said: “These materials provide a small but significant amount of protection from cold or windy weather, and also often very effectively exclude pests.

“Fleece is often used to insulate plants against the winter cold.

“In fact without heat from the sun, the temperature around covered plants will fall quite quickly to the ambient temperature.

“However, fleece doesn’t protect from other aspects of hard weather – wind and hail, for example – and is often used in conjunction with straw and similar materials where combined effect of fleece and insulation is very effective.”

However, it isn’t only shrubs and plants that need protecting during the winter, terracotta pots do too.

They are susceptible to cracking over the winter and so it is essential that they are insulated with a layer of bubble wrap, straw or fleece.

This will help to protect the pots until the weather gets warmer and frost gets less severe.

Monty added in his blog that November is also the perfect month to start planting tulips.

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He wrote: “This is, to my mind, the most important and best job of the month. It is actually something that can be done at any time between now and Christmas although the earlier they get into the ground the earlier they will flower.

“The essential thing with all tulips is to make sure that they have good drainage.

“This matters less if they are to be treated as annuals and dug up after they have flowered but even so they will be happier with plenty of grit or sand added to heavy soil.

“If they are to be permanent it is important to plant them as deep as you can, I often use a crowbar to make a hole 12 inches or more deep – and the deeper they are the stronger and straighter the stem will be.

“If you are growing them in a container then drainage is easier and they do not have to be so deep and can be planted in layers – a tulip lasagne, with an earlier variety such as ‘Orange Emperor’ planted deepest that will flower first, followed by a mid-season variety like ‘Negrita’ planted above it and then finally, in the top layer a late-season one such as ‘Queen of Night’.”

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